THE LAST three days in Holyrood have at times felt tedious, angry and a bit of a slog.

MSPs sat well into the night on Tuesday and Wednesday to ensure amendments to the gender recognition reforms were considered in full – in a bid to ensure the legislation was agreed before the Christmas recess.

Part of the lengthy chamber sessions was down to tactics used by opponents to frustrate and hold up proceedings – a strategy that fell on its face after MSPs overwhelmingly backed the plans on Thursday.

READ MORE: MSPs vote to approve historic gender recognition reforms

The consideration of amendments, the final debate and vote was meant to be dealt with in the space of one day. This was clearly overly-ambitious, but part of the hold-up has been down to the often-angry and toxic discussions that have been seen inside and outside the chamber.

After more than 150 amendments to get through, it is fair to say the Scottish Government’s reforms have faced their fair share of scrutiny – particularly after two vast consultations and a six-year process to get the legislation voted through.

The Government’s own party, the SNP, has seen nine rebels including former minister Ash Regan – while two Labour MSPs also defied party whips and voted against the plans.

READ MORE: Nine SNP MSPs break whip and vote against gender recognition reforms

None of the amendments attached this week have changed the principles of the Bill, although Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy’s change relating to asylum seekers agreed at stage two was binned by ministers amid fears the UK Government would jump on the chance to claim the legislation encroached on UK immigration policy.

SNP Civil Justice Secretary Shona Robison summed up the level of scrutiny for plans that impact the estimated 24,0000 trans people in Scotland, 0.5 per cent of the population, yesterday.

Ms Robison bluntly stated: “Never has so much been said about so few.”

The Herald: Shona RobisonShona Robison (Image: PA)

Currently, around 30 trans people in Scotland each year apply for a gender recognition certificate through the existing UK Government scheme.

But in a report following a UK visit last month, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, highlighted an “emergence of an increasingly harsh political and public discourse against trans people in the UK”, pointing to “narratives that represent trans people as a threat to others”.

But why has the debate around Scotland’s proposed gender reforms been so toxic?

Both sides of the debate have received abuse and threats, but some of the anger has emerged from overseas.

Analysis carried out by Open Democracy after an initial public consultation on the proposals found roughly half of the anti-reform submissions came from Christian conservative groups, which traditionally oppose abortion and same sex marriage.

The study found that submissions were received from across the UK – as well as from groups in other countries including Canada, the US and Australia.

READ MORE: Misinformation over gender recognition plans used to 'whip up moral panic'

Around one third of responses to the latest round of consultation came from outwith Scotland.

LibDems leader and proud trans ally, Alex Cole-Hamilton, told the Herald that the “misinformation is being floated by the religious right in America”.

He added: “There is imperial evidence they are not just stoking sentiment against minority communities, they are funding it as well.”

Opponents, including For Women Scotland and the Scottish Conservatives, have claimed this change is putting women’s rights at risk and is impacting the use of single sex spaces.

The campaign opposing the gender recognition plans has been backed by high-profile names, including author JK Rowling, while SNP MP Joanna Cherry has vocally criticised her party’s vision, including outside Holyrood this week.

The Herald: Protests outside Holyrood on WednesdayProtests outside Holyrood on Wednesday (Image: PA)

Ms Robison and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have probably lost count of the number of times they have been forced to state the fact that the legislation has no impact on single sex spaces.

No single sex space or service requires the use of a gender recognition to enter, with exemptions, including for trans people, set out explicitly in the UK Equality Act.

An amendment was even agreed that places that fact in black and white, on the face of the Bill.

But Ms Robison was visibly anxious during this week’s marathon debate at the idea of delving too much into the connection with the UK Equality Act – warning that it could easily open up the legislation to legal challenge from Tory ministers.

The Bill could face legal challenges, while Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, has hinted his government could use the Scotland Act to block its route into law.

READ MORE: UK Government to investigate blocking gender recognition reforms

In his passionate speech on Thursday, Conservative MSP Jamie Greene, who joined two of his colleagues in voting with the Government, pointed to doing the right thing by his conscience.

He stressed he knew he had decided to “chose the side of history that I believed to be right” by backing the plans.

However long the gender recognition reforms take to actually be rolled out, MSPs from all sides will know that in years to come, they will be judged on the moral stance they took and whether that was based on evidence.